Having grown up in the South, I never thought twice about how my parents popping into our backyard to throw tandoori chicken on the grill was indeed a privilege of a suburban lifestyle. Only after sifting through galleries of grilled chicken recipes last year did I come to the rude awakening that it will take years, and a few serious financial adjustments, until my spouse and I are ready to become full-on, back-porch-grilling-in-a-friendly-subdivision homeowners.
But in an attempt to keep fighting for my at-home grilling dreams, I pulled out my trusty, cast-iron grill pan and attempted to sizzle up some steak. Within 5 minutes, our two-bedroom apartment was a smoky maze and the fire department had pulled up at our door. I left my hopes of grilling in my apartment in a tall pile with the rest of the inconvenient frivolities that come with renting in NYC. That is, until I came across our deputy food editor Hana Asbrink’s broiler chicken method.
Her too-good-to-be-true recipe promised charred, juicy chicken after 15 minutes in a broiler. Huh? My subconscious ran a montage of every food I’ve ever burnt under an oven’s broiler. But I defrosted a pound of chicken anyway, and gave Hana’s promise a chance. Now, “grilled” chicken is no longer out of reach; it’s just a quick marination and broiling session away. Here’s how you can grill perfectly charred chicken with your broiler.
Marinate your chicken in yogurt
First, start with a yogurt-based marinade. Hana’s recipe, similar to that of tandoori chicken recipes, calls for a plain yogurt, which acts as a gentle meat tenderizer that renders a ridiculously moist interior while the dairy’s natural sugars result in a crisp, almost caramelized exterior on the chicken.
For 1 ½ to 2 lbs of preferably boneless, skinless chicken thighs (but you can use wings, or even chicken breast in a pinch) start with ½ cup of plain or greek yogurt. From here, choose your own marinade adventure. You can throw in chili pastes (like gochujang, sambal oelek, or red curry paste) or even go minimal with a squeeze of lemon juice and freshly grated garlic.
Set up your oven
After at least one hour or up to 24 hours of marinating, take your marinated chicken out of the fridge to bring its temperature up just a bit, for at least 20 minutes. Place your oven rack in the top third of the oven and then preheat it to the lowest broil setting. Line a large sheet pan with foil from edge to edge—this will allow for easy clean up later! Place a wire rack on top of your lined sheet pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray or brush with oil. Remove chicken from the marinade, letting any excess marinade drip off before placing the chicken on your oiled wire rack.
Make sure to flip the chicken midway
Now here’s where Hana’s strategic broiling choreography begins: Place the pan of chicken onto the top third of the oven and let it cook for 7-8 minutes. The chicken should look as if it is beginning to brown, but hasn’t just yet. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and using tongs, flip each piece of chicken over, and return the pan to the oven. Let the chicken cook for another 5 minutes. If you’re using bone-in chicken it will take longer to cook through, so let the chicken cook for 7-8 minutes on the second side. Take the pan out of the oven one last time and flip the chicken back over to the original side. Pop it back in the oven for one last broil—this is where the charring happens—and remove it from the oven after 2-3 minutes.
As with any chicken, let those babies rest under a tent of foil for at least 10 minutes before serving or slicing. You won’t believe how juicy each bite is until you make peace with your grill-less life and try it yourself.